Ubisoft Forward 2021: The Gaming Highlights

THE 2021 “on the internet so no-one gets a trip to LA” edition of E3 has kicked off with Ubisoft Forward, which streamed at 5am AEST so you best believe there’s a giant mug of coffee here with me as I’m writing this up.

The show opened with an announcement for Rainbow Six: Extraction, a single player/co-op shooter launching on September 16 for all major platforms. From the official announcement:

Formerly titled Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Quarantine, Rainbow Six Extraction is being led by a seasoned team of veterans at Ubisoft Montreal. Inspired by the long-standing legacy of co-op Rainbow Six shooters, Rainbow Six Extraction is a brand new tactical co-op PvE experience bringing operators together to fight against a mysterious threat.

 Three years ago, in the quaint town of Truth and Consequences, a meteor crashed down on a New Mexico community, releasing an unknown parasite. A handful of operators from Rainbow Six Siege seemingly contained the initial outbreak – until the Chimera parasite reappeared in multiple sites across the U.S., deadlier than ever. To take on this threat, the Rainbow Exogenous Analysis & Containment Team (REACT), a highly specialized and outfitted organisation was formed by Eliza “Ash” Cohen, Dr. Elena “Mira” Álvarez, and Jordan “Thermite” Trace.

In Extraction, players will join the REACT Team and assemble a one to three-player squad of well-known and beloved operators from Rainbow Six Siege to confront mysterious alien creatures known as the Archæans. After completing each objective, players must make a difficult choice: extract and collect their rewards or push deeper to face tougher enemies and earn greater rewards in a chaotic and intense experience. This gamble could mean temporarily losing one of their operators who are caught Missing in Action (MIA) within the containment zone. To recover an MIA operator, players must squad up and risk it all in a rescue mission.

 Choose from 18 Rainbow Six operators, each equipped with specialised REACT gear, weapons, gadgets, and abilities to learn and master, lending to highly replayable and immersive gameplay. The uniqueness and different playstyle of each operator allows for limitless options in customising a roster; striking the right balance on each REACT squad will be the key to success. Deploying into unpredictable containment zones with strategic loadouts will be integral to gathering the intel needed to stop the alien threat.

Set in four regions across the U.S., containment zones are aggressively dominated by the parasite, creating an evolving and unstable ecosystem within their walls. With a selection of 12 uniquely designed maps featuring plenty of challenges, infestations, and enemies who increase in difficulty, the dangers are constantly evolving. The deeper players go into each map, the richer the rewards, but greater the risks their squad will face.

Players who own and play both Rainbow Six Siege and Rainbow Six Extraction will instantly unlock the entire roster of 18 operators in Rainbow Six Siege, and players will receive the elite United Front cosmetic bundles in both games.

 The Standard Edition and Deluxe Edition of Rainbow Six Extraction are available for pre-order now. Players who pre-order Rainbow Six Extraction will receive the Orbital Decay bundle with exclusive Epic items including the Orion uniform and headgear for Finka and Lion, the universal Vaporised weapon skin and the Crashlander charm. Rainbow Six Extraction will also include live service support.

While it’s hard not to get Left 4 Dead vibes from the game, it also looks like a lot of fun and the fact it’s single-player capable only adds to my interest too.

There was also the announcement of Rocksmith+, apparently an enhanced version of a decade old “Guitar Hero but with a real guitar” game that I’ve literally never heard anyone mention before. The 2022 edition of Just Dance was also announced, complete with 40 new songs to dance to.

Additional content for Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla was also announced – notably that there will be a second year of post-launch content, the game is getting a Discovery Mode, and the next DLC is titled The Siege of Paris.

Per the official announcement: With Assassin’s Creed Valhalla already well into its first year of post-launch, players can currently jump into the recently-released Wrath of the Druids expansion, and will soon be able to dive into the second expansion, The Siege of Paris, as well as to learn more about the history of the time period in Discovery Tour: Viking Age.  

 Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s second expansion, The Siege of Paris, will release later this summer. Set in Francia, this new adventure will set Eivor on a dangerous path full of gripping questlines across the French countryside, towards one of the most infamous conquest battles in Viking history. Players will get their hands on new weapons, abilities, gear and skills, to take on new enemy types. The Siege of Paris will also mark the return of the Black Box Infiltration missions, where players will have full liberty in choosing the best way to eliminate a designated target. The Siege of Paris will be available for all Season Pass owners or as a separate purchase for AUD$39.95 by all owners of the main game. 

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will also continue adding free events and updates for all players, including the Basim Outfit, already available in Ubisoft Connect, and the much-anticipated one-handed sword in the coming weeks.  

This fall, all Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s owners will also have the chance to enjoy Discovery Tour: Viking Age for free. Following Discovery Tour: Ancient Egypt and Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece’s line, the brand-new chapter of the Assassin’s Creed educational expansion will shed a light on the Viking era and allow players to discover more about the history and traditions of the time. Designed with historians and archeologists, this non-violent interactive learning experience will let players embody different characters of the time and take part in their big and small adventures set in ninth-century Norway and England. The standalone version of the Discovery Tour: Viking Age will be available via Ubisoft Connect.

 Lastly, the Ubisoft Forward segment closed on an enigmatic image of a mysterious portal set in a dramatic landscape. Eivor’s journey is not over, but players will have to be on the look out to discover where it leads. 

 I’ve really enjoyed Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and its first DLC, Wrath Of The Druids, so I’m looking forward to The Siege of Paris when it launches later this year.

The showcase also had a cinematic from the upcoming Far Cry 6 (the one I’m really looking forward to) shedding some light on why your character hates the antagonist so much.

Ubisoft also announced that the season pass will have a mode where you can have a Far Cry experience through the eyes of the antagonists from Far Cry 3, 4 and 5.

From the announcement:

For the first time in Far Cry history, Season Pass holders can switch perspectives and play as some of the series’ most notorious villains: Vaas Montenegro, Pagan Min and Joseph Seed – all performed by the original cast. Through each of the three DLC episodes, players will delve into the minds of these iconic antagonists, uncover their backstories, battle their inner demons, and reunite with familiar faces in a brand new gameplay experience inspired by the roguelite genre in which players will have to become strong enough to survive multiple levels of the villain psyche.

As someone who loves a good antagonist/villain exploration story, this has certainly piqued my interest.

The upcoming open-world BMX/Extreme Sports game Riders Republic also got a good showing during Ubisoft Forward. Looking somewhat like a BMX-heavy version of Steep, or perhaps something like Forza Horizon with wingsuits, snowboards and BMX bikes, it’s set for a September 2 release.

The press release explains:

Developed by Ubisoft Annecy, Riders Republic invites players to jump into a lively social playground where they can experience the thrill of outdoor sports in an open and densely populated world. Players will roam freely with their friends in a huge and vibrant open world where they can compete and nail crazy moves through an exciting range of sports such as biking, skiing, snowboarding, wingsuiting and rocket wingsuiting. Whether players want to catch some major air with friends or ride solo to dominate the mountains and canyons, there are plenty of exhilarating moments and activities to be discovered. 

 Riders Republic will allow players to ride through some of the most breathtaking landscapes the United States has to offer. Some of the most iconic American national parks such as Bryce Canyon, Yosemite Valley, Sequoia, Zion, Canyonlands, Mammoth Mountain and Grand Teton have been faithfully recreated and imaginatively mashed together to form the ultimate outdoor sports park. 

 Players can squad up with or against friends in insane multiplayer modes: 

· Mass Races: The crazier the better in these epic, multisport races with more than 50 players. New races appear randomly on the map, so players will need to get ready to watch their blind spots, protect their position and remain agile with their skills as they fight their way to the finish line. 

· Tricks Battle: Compete in 6v6 matchups and try to land as many tricks as possible on the various modules to earn points. The team with the highest score wins. 

· Free-for-All: Challenge new opponents in 12-player sessions and show them how it’s done through a select playlist of exciting events. 

· Versus Mode: Join up with friends and see who’s the best. 

· Multiplayer Competition: Made for the top riders to show off and show out, ultimately making it to the top divisions. 

 As part of their career, riders can make a name for themselves through five different career progressions. As players continue to prove themselves in the Republic, they will sign with legendary sponsors and land invitations to the most renowned sports competitions, including Red Bull Rampage and the X Games. Players can customize their rider through evolutive progression-based gear and define every aspect of their character. Whether a rider wants to master snowboarding or be the fastest thing on two wheels, everything is possible. 

 “We can’t wait for players to get their hands on Riders Republic during the upcoming betas to experience the thrill of this multiplayer outdoor sports experience the way we imagined it,” said Game Director Arnaud Ragot. “Riders Republic is truly the pinnacle of our multiplayer expertise and we’re excited to offer the community a glimpse into the many social opportunities this dynamic world has to offer.” 

Riders Republic will make the most of next-gen gameplay, displaying more than 50 players on-screen simultaneously along with 4K ultra high definition resolution at 60 frames per second on Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. To further enhance the multiplayer experience, Riders Republic will support cross-play and cross-generation play, allowing players to connect with friends and other riders on all platforms. Players who purchase Riders Republic on Xbox One or PlayStation4 can upgrade their game to the next-gen version at no additional cost, while keeping their progression across all platforms with Ubisoft Connect, the ideal destination to connect with friends or participate in in-game events and activities. 

The game Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, based on a hugely successful movie that most of us haven’t thought about in a decade, was also announced with a 2022 release. According to the official announcement:

Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is a first person, action-adventure game developed by Massive Entertainment – a Ubisoft studio, in collaboration with Lightstorm Entertainment and Disney. Built using the latest iteration of the Snowdrop engine, and developed exclusively for the new generation of consoles and PC, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora brings to life the alluring world of Pandora with all of its beauty and danger in an immersive, open world experience.

In this new, standalone story, play as a Na’vi and embark on a journey across the Western Frontier, a never-before-seen part of Pandora. Explore a living and reactive world inhabited by unique creatures and new characters, and push back the formidable RDA forces that threaten it.

The showcase closed out with the fun-looking Mario+Rabbids: Sparks of Hope

Mario, Rabbid Peach and their friends are back in a cosmic adventure in Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope. Players will embark on an epic journey to restore order as Cursa, a mysterious and malevolent entity, twists the planets with its evil influence. They will explore incredible worlds and fight enemies in innovative combats mixing turn-based tactics and real-time movements with their extravagant team of heroes. Mario + Rabbids® Sparks of Hope will be available worldwide for Nintendo SwitchTM in 2022. 

Join Mario and the Rabbids Heroes as they take on Cursa and its dangerous minions. Cursa is inflicting chaos on the planets and their quirky inhabitants while seeking to consume all the energy of the Sparks, uncanny creatures formed by the fusion of Lumas and Rabbids.  

On your adventure, travel and explore a variety of planets filled with strange inhabitants and hilarious secrets. Outwit enemies along the way in an innovative combat system mixing turn-based tactics and real-time action. Take control of your Heroes to dash enemies, team jump on allies, hide behind cover… and make the most out of each turn in tactical and dynamic fights.  

Players will create their dream team of three Heroes from an eclectic roster of nine to face surprising bosses, familiar enemies from the Mario universe and exceptional Rabbids enemies in their cosmic quest! There are dozens of Sparks throughout the galaxy to locate, rescue and join the journey. Each Spark has a distinct power and personality, and heroes can use their special abilities in battle to gain the upper hand in combat. When this unlikely team combines forces with the Sparks’ immense energy, anything is possible … for better OR worse! 

The original Mario+Rabbids game was a pleasant surprise that I enjoyed far, far more than I expected so I’m delighted to see it getting a sequel – it looks like it’ll be a lot of fun, based on what I saw at the showcase.

More information on all the games and other announcements from the Ubisoft Forward showcase can be found at https://www.ubisoft.com/en-au/

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